Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today called for enhancing financial cooperation to improve regional crisis management as she placed five proposals to strengthen the regional cooperation against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
"I would like to propose [five] steps that ESCAP may take into account while the Russia-Ukraine war must be stopped immediately and joint actions are needed to tackle the situation," she said.
The prime minister said this in a video message broadcast in the seventy-eighth session of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) of the United Nations.
The session is being held in a hybrid modality from 23 to 27 May at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok and online, marking the 75th anniversary of ESCAP.
Sheikh Hasina spelt out her suggestions, calling for international support and measures for the graduating countries in a more pragmatic way along with enhancing regional financial cooperation to improve regional crisis management capacity.
In her proposals, she also advocated for taking action-oriented steps to facilitate collaboration in pursuit of knowledge and innovation and assisting member states to get united to pursue sufficient allocation of funds and technology for climate change victim countries.
The prime minister in her other proposal said, "Leveraging ICT made way for employment generation and growth of IT, and it enabled services to cope with the 4th IR [Industrial Revolution]."
Sheikh Hasina said when the world is struggling to recover from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict came as a huge blow to the global economic and social stability.
"The poor and developing countries are experiencing the brunt of the war," she added.
The premier said the theme of the session, "A common agenda to advance sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific", is rightly chosen to strengthen regional cooperation, partnership and solidarity for a sustainable world.
Bangladesh has been recommended to graduate from the LDC status in 2026, she mentioned.
"It is the global recognition of our planned development journey that we have been following for the last 13 years," she said.
The prime minister said her government has been working with the aim to transform Bangladesh into a knowledge-based developed and prosperous country by 2041.
"People are at the centre of our development pursuit. So are the SDGs," she said.
The premier said they have incorporated the framework provided in the SDGs to address the challenges of social inclusion, economic development, environmental protection and integration of ICT as enablers in all of their planning documents.
"Our government has been working diligently to build a hunger and poverty-free Bangladesh which is the main theme of SDG-1 and SDG-2," she said.
The Covid-19 pandemic battered the health systems and economies of most of the countries across the world, she said, adding that the poor and developing countries were the worst sufferers.
In Bangladesh, while tackling the pandemic, her government has tried to strike a balance between lives and livelihoods, she said.
"Our timely and prudent interventions greatly helped manage the macroeconomic stability," she stated.
While many countries in South Asia experienced negative or nominal GDP growth, Bangladesh maintained a commendable growth during the pandemic, Sheikh Hasina said.
"We are expecting over 7 % GDP growth in 2021-22," she said.
The premier said her government has already brought almost all targeted populations under vaccination.
As the Chair of Climate Vulnerable Forum-CVF, she said Bangladesh has drafted the "Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan", with a vision of achieving energy independence, and setting Bangladesh's trajectory from vulnerability to resilience to prosperity.
"We see regional cooperation as the most viable option for shared prosperity. Bangladesh is engaged in different regional initiatives like SAARC, BIMSTEC, BBIN, BCIM-EC and Trilateral Highway," she said.
The establishment of the "South-South Network for Public Service Innovation" helps Bangladesh's experts share their knowledge and experiences on various issues, including the SDGs, she continued.
Sheikh Hasina said that Bangladesh is actively engaged in cross-border paperless trade, Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement, public-private partnership networking, renewable energy and other initiatives of UN-ESCAP.
"We gave support to ESCAP's initiatives for the Asian Highway and Trans-Asian Railway and other approaches," she said.
She also mentioned that Bangladesh has been hosting 1.1 million forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals and this humanitarian crisis poses a serious security threat.
"We expect enhanced focus and active support of the international community for safe, sustainable and dignified return of these displaced people," she said.